What Is A Foot Print For A Backing Tent

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This age-old question presents a difficulty to both first-time hikers and seasoned travelers. You’ve already spent a significant amount of money on a tent; should you add the cost of a footprint to your total expenditure? What is the point of it all? Following that, we’ll go over the main considerations for making the decision, such as what a footprint actually does, how the toughness of your particular tent and the surface you’ll be camping on affect the decision, how much a footprint costs and how much it weighs, the best DIY footprint options, and more.

What Exactly Does a Footprint Do?

This lightweight ground sheet acts as a barrier between the floor of your tent and the surrounding ground. If we, as responsible hikers and custodians of the land, adhere to the principles of Leave No Trace camping, we will camp as frequently as possible on sturdy surfaces. Over time, these surfaces can act as sandpaper, eroding the tent fabric and waterproofing to the point of failure. When a rock or root punctures your tent floor, the worst-case situation is that you have a hole in your floor that is impossible to fix.

It is the duty of a tent to keep you dry, so the real considerations are whether a footprint is essential given the additional expense and weight, and what your real alternatives are.

The Toughness (Floor Denier) of Your Tent

When measuring the weight of a fabric’s thread, denier (D) is used as a metric. The greater the denier rating, the thicker and more durable the fabric will be. Because the tent floor will be in direct touch with the ground in this particular situation, the denier of the tent floor is important, and this number might vary significantly. A 15D floor may be found on the lightweight Big Agnes Tiger Wall, whereas a 68D floor can be found on the bulkier Marmot Tungsten, which has a 68D floor. We can tell you that when you compare the two, there is a significant difference in terms of thickness and durability.

” data-entity-uuid=”0″ id=”” src=” title=”” width=”770″> ” data-entity-uuid=”0″ id=”” src=” title=”” width=”770″> Without leaving a trace, we used the lightweight 15-denier Big Agnes Tiger Wall.

In my experience as a hiker who weighs every gram of my belongings, I typically avoid carrying a footprint and instead make intelligent decisions about where and how I put up my tent.

In addition to using lightweight DIY footprints as discussed below, many beginner and weekend trekkers choose for tougher (and heavier) tents or don’t care about carrying the few extra ounces that a manufacturer-provided footprint would add to their pack weight and weight distribution.

Consider the Camping Surface: Rock or Forest Floor?

A variety of surfaces with differing degrees of impact on the floor of your tent may be found in the lovely, distinctive areas where we backpack. It is more difficult to maintain a granite slab in Tuolumne Meadows than it is to maintain a forest floor carpeted with autumn foliage in the Adirondacks. Camping on rock in general, and granite in particular, poses the greatest threat to your tent’s structural integrity. It only takes one sharp piece, along with the incorrect amount of pressure or movement, to cause a rip or a hole.

  • Furthermore, although though forest floors appear to be safe, they might include concealed rocks and roots that should be avoided.
  • First and foremost, who would want to sleep with a rock sticking into their lumbar area?
  • Second, those large pointed rocks have the potential to cause rips and holes in the ground.
  • By staking out the guylines and ensuring that there is only little movement, you may reduce the amount of friction that is formed between the ground and the tent fabric and save money on tent rental.

How Much Does a Footprint Cost and Weigh?

The majority of outdoor gear providers provide their own branded footprints that are designed to work smoothly with their specific tents. The convenience element is unquestionably present: the footprint will be properly aligned with the color scheme and will complement it flawlessly. Although not prohibitively expensive, matching footprints may cost anywhere from $30 to $80 and can be very hefty, depending on the material and size of your tent. Example: The footprint for our top-rated camping tent, the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2, weighs 5 oz and costs $70, despite the fact that it is only 5 ounces.

To put it into perspective, it increases the weight of the equation by around 10% while increasing the cost by approximately 15%.

As a result of the way the two sections (tent and footprint) are designed to fit together properly with no material protruding from the bottom of the tent, rainwater will not be diverted below the tent and will not create a damp, chilly pool where you will sleep at night.

We’ve tented in heavy winds where the footprint had a mind of its own, and we’ve camped in low visibility when the footprint had a mind of its own.

Finally, the footprints given by the manufacturer are thicker and more durable than the DIY alternatives, indicating that they should last for a longer period of time.

How to Make Your Own DIY Footprint

After making the investment in a tent, adding a footprint can become prohibitively expensive, not to mention the additional weight it adds to your bag. Not to worry: making (or purchasing) your own system might be a more cost-effective and lighter alternative. There are a variety of DIY footprint alternatives available, so let’s take a look at some of the most popular. 0.7-millimeter-thick Polycryo (also known as “Polycro”), which can be purchased on Amazon for approximately $5 or at your local hardware shop, is the material of choice among ultralight aficionados.

  • In addition, Gossamer Gear sells a two-pack of Polycryo for $12, which is a very reasonable price for such a high-quality product.
  • In comparison to the Big Agnes footprint, Gossamer Gear’s Polycryo sheets weigh just 1.6 ounces each (as opposed to the 5 ounces of the Big Agnes footprint stated above), and you may be able to further reduce their weight by cutting the sheet to the size of your tent.
  • ” data-entity-uuid=”0″ id=”” src=” title=”” width=”770″> ” data-entity-uuid=”0″ id=”” src=” title=”” width=”770″> Gossamer Gear’s Polycryo groundsheets are extremely lightweight.
  • Although it weighs.14 ounces per square foot, Tyvek is somewhat heavier than Polycryo, which should provide you with slightly greater durability.
  • The final option is to invest in an inexpensive, yet functional tarp, which is typically quite handy while camping.
  • It has already been established that when making a bespoke footprint, it is important to create the form slightly smaller than the floor of your hiking tent.
  • At the very least, you will wake up grumpy and soaked.

Our Final Take on Footprints

No one solution to the footprint problem exists, but here’s what we think is the most promising approach. The footprints provided by the tent manufacturers themselves are costly and heavy, however they are more durable than the DIY alternatives like as Polycryo and Tyvek. Take advantage of this option if you value peace of mind, don’t mind lugging about an extra ounce or two, or simply enjoy the convenience of having a matching footprint. It’s worth mentioning that a number of tents, such as the Marmot Tungsten series and REI’s renowned Half Dome line, now include footprints as part of the package to sweeten the bargain, despite the fact that these are the thickest tents that require the least amount of footprints.

  • As well as your exact tent style (the floor denier), you should consider what sort of traveller you are and how much time you have available.
  • If you don’t use a footprint, think about what would happen if your tent were to be torn apart while you’re out camping.
  • Tenacious Tape and other nylon repair kits are a fine choice, but they are not quite as good as a tent in excellent shape.
  • Perhaps the best option is a medium ground: a lightweight and affordable Polycryo groundsheet that provides peace of mind without putting a strain on your back or your bank account.

In addition, it isn’t the worst thing to carry in your pack because you may discover additional uses for it, such as covering extra stuff or simply lounging on it around camp. Check out the Best Backpacking Tents for 2021. See our Backpacking Gear Reviews for more information.

Ultralight Backpacking Tent Footprint Substitutions

The weight of your tent’s footprint is measured in kilograms. The weight of this one is 7.4 ounces. More than half of all backpackers utilize a manufacturer’s tent footprint inside their tent when going on overnight hiking journeys in the wilderness. These precautions are taken in order to protect the bottom of their tents from sharp pebbles and sand that can shred or puncture their tent floors, to increase the water resistance of their tent floors, or to keep their tent clean and mud free, which makes it simpler to pack.

When camping in abrasive sand, mountain campsites with sharp rocks, ancient tents with holes in their flooring, or even modern tents with impossibly thin 7 denier polyester or nylon floors, an additional layer of protection under the tent floor may be quite advantageous.

Tent Footprints Are Heavy

Manufacturer tent footprints, on the other hand, are heavy and costly. What if you could provide the same degree of protection while utilizing a groundsheet that is far less in weight and costs significantly less? The two most common ultralight groundsheets are manufactured from an industrial plastic called Polycryo (which is marketed by Gossamer Gear) and Tyvek, both of which are created from recycled materials. The use of window wrap plastic insulation as a tent footprint alternative is quite effective.

Window Wrap

Window Wrap is the plastic covering that you place over your windows and blow dry to insulate them during the cold winter months. It is possible that a single piece will survive a season or longer, depending on how frequently it is used. One of the most popular products is Duck Brand Window/Door Shrink Film ($4.88), while another is Frost King Stretch Window Kit ($7.70). A number of small-scale producers also offer it under the brand name Polycryo, although at a hefty premium. It’s the same stuff as before.

Tyvek HomeWrap is heavier than Window Wrap, but it is also more durable.

Tyvek HomeWrap

Building with Tyvek HomeWrap is a great way to keep drafts out of your home by creating a vapor barrier between your internal walls and the exterior siding of your house. It is lightweight, waterproof, and puncture resistant, which is why it is commonly used as an ultralight groundsheet due to its characteristics. The fact that it is so durable means that it will survive for several seasons. On eBay, you can get Tyvek HomeWrap by the foot, which is cut from a 9′ roll. Tarptent.com also sells Tyvek groundsheets that are specifically scaled for the tents they sell, which range in price from $12 to $15.

The weight of a Tyvek groundsheet for a one-person tent ranges from 2 ounces to 5 ounces, and for a two-person tent, the weight ranges from 5 to 8 ounces.

While utilizing a Tyvek groundsheet rather than a manufacturer’s footprint is likely to result in some weight savings, the primary advantage of adopting a Tyvek groundsheet over a manufacturer’s footprint is the cheaper cost.


If the weather circumstances necessitate the use of a tent footprint, but you want to save money by not purchasing one, or you want to minimize the weight of your stuff in your backpack, try constructing an ultralight groundsheet out of window wrap insulation or Tyvek instead. It’s worth noting that some of the lightest and least priced camping equipment isn’t actually backpacking equipment. NOTE FROM THE EDITOR: If you’re considering about purchasing gear that we’ve reviewed or recommended on SectionHiker, you may contribute to our fundraising efforts.

Simply click on any of the vendor links provided above.

Thank you for your assistance, and please know that we appreciate it!

Is A Tent Footprint Worth It: Yes, and how to make your own for free

If you’ve already read our in-depth guide to buying a tent and discovered your ideal backcountry structure, you might be wondering if you’ll need to purchase a tent footprint to go with your new construction. Alternatively, if your tent comes with a sleeping bag, should you really take it on your next trip? When it comes to backpacking and camping, tent footprints, sometimes known as groundsheets, may be a source of friction for both groups. Is a tent footprint, on the other hand, worthwhile?

The straightforward answer is yes.

Find out everything you need to know about footprints and groundsheets by continuing reading this article.

Here’s what we are going to cover:

  • What is a tent footprint, and how do you make one? What is the purpose of a tent footprint
  • What is the purpose of using a tent footprint? What is the composition of tent footprints
  • Is it really worth it to leave a footprint? Tent Footprints Made at Home

What Is A Tent Footprint?

As the name implies, a footprint (sometimes called a groundsheet) is an extremely lightweight sheet that is roughly the shape of your tent floor’s outline and that is placed beneath your tent to act as a barrier or additional layer between the ground and your tent floor. These are frequently supplemental or optional pieces of equipment. Groundsheets, on the other hand, are becoming increasingly common among tent manufacturers, who are included them in the price of their tents. Footprints are frequently constructed of the same material as your tent, but with a thicker thread—a thicker thread is referred to as a higher ‘denier.’ More on this in a moment.

See also:  How Do You Assemble The Regal Creek Tent With Porch

What Is A Tent Footprint Used For?

Despite the fact that it is constructed of exceptionally durable nylon or polyester, the floor of your tent is subjected to a great deal of wear and tear. Some terrain can cause your tent floor to wear out considerably more quickly than others. Exposed granite and sandstone can act as sandpaper on the bottom of your tent, potentially causing thin areas or holes to appear quite rapidly on the ground surface of your tent. Minor, sharp pebbles and twigs can also create small punctures in your floor, especially if they are close together.

Even yet, if holes begin to form in your tent, the effectiveness of the tent to keep you dry and warm gets more weakened over time.

This is an instance in which leaving a footprint can be beneficial. A footprint serves as a protective covering against these abrasions and as a barrier between you and the ground, which can be chilly or damp at times.

Why Use A Tent Footprint?

Tent footprints have the potential to significantly increase the useful life of your tent. When you consider that a hiking tent might cost $300 or more, a footprint that costs $40-50 or less could well be worth it. In the event that you let your tent floor to become worn, you may as well be employing an arp shelter or a bivy bag. Unlike your tent, when the footprint wears out, it can be simply changed at a far cheaper cost than the tent itself.

Footprints Are Useful For Other Things Too

Tent footprints are also helpful for a variety of other applications, which is an added plus. As we explained in previous post, tent footprints, as well as old rain-flies, may be utilized in a variety of practical ways, including the following ones:

  • The use of groundsheets for bivying or when you just don’t want to bother with putting up the tent
  • They make wonderful tarps for sorting equipment. Tarps made of perfectrope for the crag
  • Picnic blankets that are a good size
  • Rain protection that is above and beyond
  • Additional heat insulating layer/windshield is recommended. Can be used to repair various items of clothing and equipment, such as tents and backpacks.

What are tent footprints made of?

It is possible that your tent will arrive with a footprint, however most tents can be purchased with a fitted footprint. Footprints will be made of either nylon or polyester, similar to how tents are manufactured. In a recent post, we discussed the differences in the characteristics of nylon and polyester. Generally speaking, nylon is a stronger textile that is also more elastic and less water resistant than polyester. Polyester is less elastic than nylon, but it is significantly more water resistant and resistant to UV damage than nylon.

When you consider that the objective of your footprints is to protect you and your tent from moisture and abrasion, most people would agree that a polyester groundsheet is the superior choice (disregarding weight).


The ‘denier’ of the fabric will be listed in the product specs for footprints, much as it is with tent material (for double-walled tents, the denier is not as critical because the inner tent is protected by the rain fly). Denier is a unit of measure for the thickness of a thread. As an example, consider denier to be a “burliness” element in the instance of tent footprints. The greater the denier, the more hefty the product will be in terms of weight. In order to serve as a barrier, your imprints should be made of a higher denier fabric wherever possible (assuming all other factors are equivalent).

Denier By The Numbers

For example, the universal footprint for the MSR Hubba Hubba NX costs $45 when purchased from Backcountry.com. It is made of 68-denier polyester and weighs 7.0 ounces. The Nemo Hornet has a footprint that weighs 6.9 ounces and is made of 75-denier nylon. It costs $49. As a point of reference, the floor material of the Hubba Hubba is 30-denier nylon, while the top micromesh is 15-denier nylon. Nylon is much lighter than polyester. Because it is made of a higher denier material, the Nemofootprint weighs less than the Hubba Hubba footprint in terms of total weight.

Is A Tent Footprint Worth It?

All of this is in order to answer the question, “Is leaving a footprint worth it?” A tent footprint is absolutely worth the investment, especially considering how lightweight, inexpensive, and versatile they are.

Let’s imagine you’ve come to a conclusion and are now looking for the ideal footprint for your tent on the internet. There is one more thing to think about, and it might end up saving you a significant amount of money.

DIY Tent Footprints

Tent footprints are quite basic objects, despite the fact that they are extremely vital. What exactly are they in the first place? You should put a sheet under your tent. Is it really necessary to spend $40-50 bucks on anything like that? The answer to this question is a resounding no. The manufacturer-issued footprints may be replaced with a few other options that will perform better, are more adaptable, and will save you money as well. Before we get into the DIY possibilities, it’s crucial to understand how to measure the footprint of your DIY tent.

How Big Should A Tent Footprint Be?

It is recommended that the footprints be cut to be around 1-2 inches smaller than the actual outline of your tent on all sides. The rationale behind this is a bit puzzling, to be honest. It is possible that a footprint that extends beyond the tent’s edge will operate as a moisture trap. In the event of a downpour, this will allow water to pool and flow between the footprint and the bottom of your tent’s floor. It is possible that more water will enter the main tent as a result of this than if the footprint had not been present in the first place.

3 Materials For A Solid DIY Footprint

A basic transparent plastic painters tarp, which is the heaviest choice here, can be obtained at any hardware shop for a few dollars. The amount of material you receive will be plenty for your needs, and you may cut it to your specifications. Pros:

  • It is inexpensive
  • You may choose the size. Completely impervious to water
  • Big tents
  • When weight is not a consideration
  • Car camping or walk-in campsites

Polycro, which is available from Gossamer Gear and Six Moon Designs, is the lightest of the ultra-light polymers. Polycro is transparent, and it appears just like a plastic painter’s tarp, only it’s wayyy thinner. Its high strength to weight ratio means that, despite being a thin layer, Polycro is exceptionally durable, puncture and abrasion resistant, in addition to being water and abrasion resistant. A normal sheet of polycro, measuring 96″ by 48″, weighs just 1.6 ounces, which is nearly indistinguishable (45 grams).


You know that white paper-like material that is used to cover houses while they are being built? Because it’s practically unbreakable, it’s inexpensive, it’s waterproof, and it’s also somewhat lightweight. Tyvek has a high burliness factor, which means it is difficult to tear. It is far more puncture resistant when compared to the other choices. Tyvek is also impervious to water. However, because it is light and compact, you can simply roll up and cinch it in the top of your pack or one of the exterior straps when not in use.

Others will cut the piece to your preferred length if you ask them nicely.

In comparison to Polycro, a piece of Tyvek measuring 84″ × 84″ weights 6.5 ounces (184 grams). Still incredibly light, if not the lightest, it is still quite light. Pros:

  • Every circumstance involving hiking or camping in which weight is not a consideration


  1. What Is the Footprint of a Tent? A footprint is a ground sheet that is molded to the contour of your tent and serves as a barrier between the floor of your tent and the ground. What Is the Purpose of a Footprint? A footprint is a piece of rubber that protects the bottom of your tent from damage. When placed between your tent and the ground, it works as a barrier, keeping moisture and cold from getting into your tent. Is It Really Necessary To Bring A Tent When Backpacking? When hiking, you do not need to leave a trace. A footprint, on the other hand, will extend the life of your tent by preventing moisture and cold from entering the tent and is very light in comparison. Footprints may be used for a variety of additional functions while hiking or camping, such as a rain tarp, a gear sorting station, wind protection, a picnic blanket, and other things. In Your Opinion, What Is The Best DIY Tent Footprint? Tyvek and Polycro are two inexpensive and lightweight materials that may be used to create your own imprints. Compared to Tyvek, Polycro is considerably lighter and less durable, but it is also more costly and more delicate. Tyvek is more durable and less expensive. Both variants are water-resistant.

In what way does a tent footprint differ from other footprints? As a barrier between your tent floor and the ground, a footprint is a ground sheet that has been fashioned to match the shape of your tent frame. Is There a Purpose for a Footprint? The floor of your tent is protected from wear and tear by a footprint. When placed between your tent and the ground, it works as a barrier, keeping damp and cold from entering your tent. Backpacking Without a Tent: Is It Really Necessary to Bring One Along?

A footprint, on the other hand, will extend the life of your tent by preventing moisture and cold from entering the tent and is relatively light in weight.

The Best DIY Tent Footprint: What Is the Best Design?

When compared to Tyvek, Polycro is significantly lighter, yet it is more costly and delicate than Tyvek, while being more durable and less expensive.

Guide to Tent Footprints

A tent footprint, which is also known as a ground cloth or a groundsheet, is a waterproof sheet that is placed between the floor of your tent and the ground of the surrounding forest. They are intended to avoid wear and tear on the tent’s floor – a tent footprint will prevent (or at least mitigate) any scratching or punctures produced by sand, sticks, or stones when the tent is pitched on rough, gritty terrain. These items can also assist you with a variety of additional tasks like as preventing water from leaking into your tent, cushioning the ground, insulating the floor, and keeping your tent clean.

Let’s get started.

Why do I need a Tent Footprint?

Tents should be protected for the rest of their lives. It goes without saying that the most important and most common function of a footprint is to protect the floor of your tent. It is likely that the floor of your tent will be subjected to a great deal of damage – imagine your body weight tossing and turning in your sleep as you grind the floor of your tent into rocky ground. You can easily wear out and damage the cloth as a result of this operation. If the tent floor is not properly covered, it will decay much more quickly than the rest of the tent.

  • Tents are costly, and I want to make the most of mine by extending its lifespan as much as possible.
  • Waterproofing.
  • The addition of a second layer of a footprint will prevent rain from seeping into your tent and soaking your sleeping bag, clothing, and other personal belongings in the process.
  • Your groundcloth will absorb a significant amount of the dirt and moisture, avoiding the growth of mold and mildew in your tent.
  • Cushioning and insulation are included.
  • Your body, on the other hand, will absorb and feel whatever temperature the earth is at the time.
  • A tent footprint, on the other hand, may give a smidgeon of additional insulation from the ground as well as a smidgeon of additional cushion, which is very useful if you are trying to make it lightweight and reduce every ounce.
  • It might be challenging to locate a suitable tent location.
  • Because of the small size of a footprint, it is quite simple to lay it out on the ground and determine the size of your property.

Occasionally, before setting up, I will lay down on top of the footprint to ensure that the ground is flat and level. Painter’s Tarp (on the left) and Tyvek (on the right) (right)

What are the best Footprints?

Most of the nicest tent footprints, particularly for lightweight trekking or hiking, are made by the camper himself. Those manufacturer alternatives that were expressly developed for your tent, in my (modest) view, are subpar. Because they come with clips and buckles to attach to your tent, they tend to be on the pricier side (some are more than $50), and because they are excessively hefty because of this. We’re back to the do-it-yourself possibilities. The majority of ultralight backpackers rely on one of these.

  1. Sheets of Painter’s Tarp (or polycro). My personal fave. I use a 2 mm thick sheet, which is a terrific option because it just weights a few grams and is small enough to put in my pocket while still being effective. “Tyvek” is available for $2 at your local hardware shop. A brand of flashspun high-density polyethylene fibers that are frequently used to protect structures while they are being built. Among the other alternatives are “shrink” polymers, which are used to seal windows and doors during the winter months.
See also:  How To Reduce Temperature In A Grow Tent

Don’t be concerned about attachments; the weight of your body will keep it firmly in place beneath the surface. You can place your gear (or a hefty rock) on top of your tent if you are in strong winds and are concerned that it will be blown away if you are not inside the tent.

How to Make Your Own DIY Footprint

Obtaining the Materials: Tent footprint material, a sharpie marker, and scissors Step 1: Go to a hardware shop or look online for the materials you want to use. Just make sure it’s larger than the size of the floor of your tent before starting. Consider the following example: a one-person tent may be 7 feet long and 3 feet broad. Second, lay the tarp down flat on the ground and place your tent on top of it to protect your belongings. The third step is to use a sharpie to trace the floor of your tent.

  1. Caution should be exercised to avoid getting sharpie on the tent!
  2. The goal here is to have your tent footprint be somewhat smaller than the floor of your actual tent on all sides.
  3. Done!
  4. Stoveless BackpackingMeals

Everything to know about a Tent Footprint – Benefits and alternatives

When a tent is pitched, the footprint, also known as the groundsheet, is a piece of cloth that is placed below the floor of the tent to protect it from wear and damage. The tent bottom also serves as a layer of moisture protection, preventing water from soaking through. Despite the fact that certain tents do not require a footprint, the vast majority of them do. Let’s go through some of the things you should look for to evaluate whether or not you require one for your tent. In addition, we will explore how to utilize one as well as a few options that are more cost-effective.

Do you need a tent footprint?

Use of a footprint, while not always essential, is recommended in order to extend the life of your tent’s floor. The use of a footprint is optional for certain tents, although many backpacking tents require it because to the thinner and lighter materials used, which increases the danger of damage to the tents. You can also learn about the products that the company suggests. Alternatively, you might go online to see whether a footprint for your tent is available. As a rule of thumb, if a product has been designed expressly for your tent, it is advised.

If you’re not sure what the difference is between a backpacking tent and a camping tent, check out my post on the subject. To assist you in determining whether or not your tent requires a footprint, there are three key considerations to consider:

  1. What kind of material is the floor of your tent? What is the thickness of it
  2. In what condition is the ground in question
1. What material is your tent floor?

The type of material used to construct your tent floor is arguably the most important aspect in determining whether or not you require a footprint. The majority of tent floors are constructed of nylon, although others, such as those from Zpacks and Hyperlight, are built of DCF (Durable Composite Fiber) (dyneema composite fabric). DCF (previously known as cuben fiber) is a particularly strong and lightweight material. It is up to 15 times stronger than steel when measured in terms of weight! A tent constructed with DCF should not require the use of a footprint.

Given the high cost of all things DCF, a tent footprint can be used to extend the life of the DCF.

2. How thick is your tent floor?

Denier is a unit of measurement for cloth thickness. Essentially, the greater the denier number, the thicker the fibers or threads that were employed in the product’s production. Tents made of lightweight nylon, such as those usually used for hiking, have a lower denier, typically ranging from 10D to 30D, making them more suitable for camping. The denier of standard camping tents is greater, ranging from 210D and above. A footprint is required for any nylon tent floor that is less than 30D in thickness.

It’s not going to hurt to keep the floor of my tent clean and free of moisture.

Please contact the manufacturer if you are unable to locate the denier of your tent floor and ask what they recommend.

3. What are the ground conditions?

Making certain that your tent is put up in an area free of sticks and pebbles is critical, not only for the purpose of safeguarding your tent floor, but also for your comfort. Having saying that, finding a tent location that is clear of any debris is an uncommon occurrence. Unfortunately, unless you are pitching your tent in a location that you are acquainted with, you will not know what the ground conditions are until you are ready to set up camp, which may be a frustrating experience. In addition to offering an added layer of protection, a tent footprint will assist to alleviate some of the uncertainties.

Benefits of tent footprints

If you’re still not convinced, consider the following advantages of adopting a tent footprint:

  1. This product protects your tent floor from harm while also keeping the underside of your tent floor clean. Keeps the underside of your tent’s floor from becoming wet
  2. It is less difficult to clean.

It goes without saying that using an additional layer beneath your tent floor will give additional protection, but using a footprint will help keep the bottom of your tent floor clean and dry as well. This stops you from having to stow a tent that is damp and dirty in your backpack. Additionally, a footprint will be simpler to shake off debris, and you may place it in the outer mesh pocket of your bag to allow it to dry faster.

RidgeTrekker Quick Tip: I recommend a backpack that has a mesh pocket on the front. Check out some further suggestions to assist you in selecting a hiking backpack.

How to use a tent footprint

It is not difficult to set up a tent on a tent footprint. Follow these three straightforward steps:

  1. Prepare the ground for your tent’s footprint
  2. Set up a tent on the roof
  3. Make certain that the tent’s footprint is tucked below it.

First and foremost, choose a moderately clean and level location for your tent footprint. Some footprints can be staked, so if you want to do so now, go ahead. Knowing where you’re going to put your footprint is advantageous, especially on windy days. Otherwise, you may use pebbles, sticks, or even some of your own gear to weigh it down when the situation calls for it. Once everything is in place, you can start erecting your tent on top of it. It may take a little practice to get your tent to sit properly.

It is possible to hoist and center a freestanding tent over the footprint if you have one.

In this way, water is prevented from collecting on the footprint and flowing below your tent floor, soaking it and perhaps seeping through to the interior.

Alternative Tent Footprint Options

It is usual practice to choose an alternate choice instead of purchasing footprints that are especially built for a certain tent. The following are the most often encountered alternate footprints:

Type Strength Weight Price
Tyvek Very High Heavy $
Polycro High Ultralight $
DCF Very High Ultralight $$$
Tarp Varies Varies Varies

If weight is your major concern, the table below breaks down the weight by ounce per square foot based on the type and thickness of the material used in the construction (when applicable). Based on goods from Six Moon Designs, Gossamer Gear, and Zpacks, the ounces per square foot are calculated.


Tyvek is inexpensive, and if you can find a leftover piece at a building site, you can get away with using it for nothing. Tough and waterproof Tyvek tent footprints are incredibly sturdy and long-lasting, although they may be rather hefty. Some firms, like as Zpacks, sell Tyvek footprints, and you may also get them on the online marketplace Etsy. Some include grommets in the corners for staking. You can make one yourself if you can get your hands on some scrap or don’t mind purchasing it on a roll.


When it comes to tent footprints, polycro is another popular choice. It is long-lasting, lightweight, and inexpensive! Although it is not as robust as Tyvek, for most trekkers, the weight reduction outweighs the disadvantages. When employing polycro, the following are the drawbacks:

  • It is unable to breathe, which results in condensation on the ground side. When temperatures are high enough, they can shrink. Laying out is more difficult (even a moderate wind will have you trying to keep it from blowing away)
DCF (Dyneema Composite Fabric)

Another material choice for a tent footprint is DCF (diamond-shaped fiber). Even while it is lighter, it is also quite pricey. Making your own can save you money, but the benefits aren’t all that significant. It may be more durable than polycro, but the added durability does not justify the significant price difference between the two materials.


Last but not least, a tarp, even the blue tarps from the hardware store, can be used to create a footprint. Tarps are available in a broad variety of materials and for a number of uses, and there is something for everyone. Tarps can be inexpensive or expensive, lightweight or heavy, and robust or weak, depending on the material used.

Some may or may not be waterproof, depending on the material. Because of the diversity, you should use your best judgment when choosing whether or not a tarp will be suitable for your needs.

How to choose an alternative tent footprint

When selecting an alternate footprint, there are two characteristics to look for.


First, decide on the type of material you intend to utilize. This will decide the longevity of the footprint as well as its capacity to preserve the floor of your tent’s inside. It also has an impact on how large your carbon footprint is going to be.


Following that, you’ll need a footprint that’s large enough to accommodate your tent. Having anything that is overly big is acceptable if it can be reduced to the appropriate size. If the tarp is too small, it will only protect a piece of the tent’s floor. If you do decide to trim it to fit, be sure you cut it just little less than the size of your tent floor or close enough that you can easily tuck the extra underneath.

Is it worth it?

So, do the advantages of having a tent footprint offset the expense of a few ounces of extra weight? It is entirely up to you to decide. It is, however, never a bad idea to have a footprint along with you on your camping excursions. When it comes to the lifetime of what is likely to be your most costly piece of hiking equipment, a few ounces is nothing.

Tent Footprint: What It Is and Why You Need One

Modern, high-quality tents are not inexpensive, especially when it comes to lightweight options appropriate for hiking. However, here’s why you should spend a few additional bucks on another piece of equipment – a tent footprint. We require shelter as humans, and the process of selecting, acquiring, and setting up a suitable shelter demands an investment of both time and money — as well as, perhaps most crucially, knowledge on how to do so. Knowledge on whether you need a footprint, how to select the right footprint for your tent and intended use, and how to keep all of this equipment in good condition are all important.

We hope that this page will provide comprehensive answers to any queries you may have concerning tent footprints.

What Is a Tent Footprint?

Essentially, a tent footprint is a lightweight piece of material that is about equal in size and form to the floor of your tent’s main structure. Consider a tarp as an example. These are normally produced from the same material as your tent, but with a somewhat greater denier count than the tent itself. The denier count of a fabric refers to the thickness of the threads that make up the fabric. More abrasion-resistant and durable a material is, the greater the denier count of the material used in its production.

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Tent footprints that are designed particularly for a specific tent type will attach to the tent’s body, which will aid in keeping the footprint in place while the tent is in use.

Tent footprints are further distinguished by the inclusion of details like as grommets or corner loops, as well as unique stitching that makes them suitable for camping.

What Is a Tent Footprint Used For?

Josh Larios is a writer and musician from Los Angeles, California, who lives and works in Los Angeles, California, and is a member of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. ” data-descr=”” data-alt=”tent footprint”> ” data-descr=”” data-alt=”tent footprint”> Josh Larios is the photographer that took this photograph. Tent footprints are used to protect your tent’s floor from making direct touch with the ground when camping. Some of the most luxurious tents available on the market today weigh less than a pound.

The use of a tent footprint will reduce the likelihood of abrasive pebbles or sticks on the ground ripping or damaging the body of your tent body.

The fabric underneath you will be crushed into the ground by every movement you make while sleeping in a tent while sleeping on the ground.

Why Should I Buy One?

Josh Larios is a writer and musician from Los Angeles, California, who lives and works in Los Angeles, California, and is a member of the band Josh Larios. ” data-descr=”” data-alt=”tent footprint”>” data-descr=”” data-alt=”tent footprint”> Josh Larios provided the photograph. In order to prevent your tent’s floor from coming direct touch with the ground, tent footprints are used. The weight of some of the highest-end tents now available on the market is less than one pound. In order to save weight, these tents are constructed of thin, delicate fabrics.

Above all things, a tent footprint is a technique for you to safeguard the financial investment you have made in your camping equipment.

Because the tent footprint is designed to withstand abrasion, your tent will not be damaged in this situation.

  • A clear area on which to arrange equipment
  • A fantastic climbing tarp made of rope
  • For open bivvies (when putting up a tent isn’t essential), this ground tarp is ideal. A play surface or a designated place for little campers
  • The use of a protective surface when sleeping beneath the stars
  • A shelter to provide protection from the rain or the sun
  • There are several additional applications.

Loonyhiker” data-descr=”” data-alt=”setting up tent”> Loonyhiker” data-descr=”” data-alt=”setting up tent”> Photo courtesy of loonyhiker

Is a Tent Footprint Worth Buying?

This is ultimately determined by your requirements and financial constraints. We do, however, recommend that you purchase a tent footprint. It is a highly efficient method of significantly extending the life of your tent. The ideal option is to invest in a high-quality tent footprint that is designed particularly for your tent type. Alternatively, if the tent you already or want to purchase does not come with a carry bag, investigate whether the manufacturer offers one separately. If you’re on a tight budget and a name-brand footprint is just out of reach (footprints may cost anywhere from $30 to $80), you can make your own tent footprint out of plastic tarp or Tyvek wrap (which costs between $3 and $15).

You may also purchase a tarp square that has already been cut (if you can find one that matches the area of your tent). Simply cut the cloth of your choosing to the proportions of your tent floor, and you’ll have a low-cost tent footprint in no time!

The Best Camping Tents of 2021

Make the most of your home away from home by selecting the best camping tent for your upcoming excursion or vacation. We scoured the market to find the best vehicle camping and family camping tents for every price and application. More information may be found here.

The Best Backpacking Tents of 2021

You can find the finest backpacking tents of 2021 no matter how long you want to stay on the trail or how much money you have to spend. More information may be found here.

Is a Tent Footprint Worth It? – Appalachian Mountain Club

Yes and no, but the majority of the time no. It is important to use a tent footprint to protect the underside of the tent from damage and moisture. This will assist to extend the life of the tent and make it drier on the inside. Footprints are precisely tailored to the shape of the tent, reducing the quantity of fabric necessary for complete coverage. They are also equipped with corner grommets to hold it to the tent frame, ensuring that the footprint is appropriately positioned below the tent.

When is it worthwhile to have a tent footprint?

  • If you want to camp on rugged, rocky terrain with a high likelihood of sharp points and rough edges, leaving a footprint is often a good idea. There is also worry about areas where there is a lot of felled timber and the possibility of sharp branches. If you camp and/or backpack frequently (think dozens of nights per year), and you want your tent to be as durable as possible years down the road, a footprint is definitely something to consider. As long as you’re not concerned about a little more weight and bulk with your tent when vehicle camping, adding an additional footprint to your tent has little drawbacks other than the expense of acquiring it.

When does it become unprofitable?

  • Whenever you’d prefer not to have the extra weight and girth on your back. By eliminating the tent footprint, you may save a significant amount of weight in your pack. Personally, I rarely carry a tent footprint and have spent many, many nights in several of my tents that did not have a footprint on them. There has been little to no serious damage to the tent undersides (and any tiny tears or punctures have been easily repaired using Tenacious Tape), and the lack of further moisture protection has been a minor nuisance at most.

When is the best time to purchase one?

  • It is essential to purchase a footprint at the same time you purchase your tent, or at the very least during the same season. Why? Because even if you only use your footprint on an irregular trip-by-trip basis, you should acquire one at the same time you purchase your tent. Many tent models come and go in a short period of time. Manufacturers are also continually changing and tweaking the proportions of recurrent models (as well as the footprints that accompany them) from year to year. As time passes, the likelihood of discovering a precise footprint to match an earlier tent diminishes fast.

Matt HeidWorking as a Freelancer AMC’s gear expert is blogger Matt Heid, who is well-equipped: He adores his gear, and he enjoys putting it to use in the field. His research on many guidebooks, including AMC’s Best Backpacking in New England, has taken him across New England, California, and Alaska, among other wilderness areas, logging thousands of kilometers on foot. He also enjoys cycling, climbing, and surfing.

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Do You Really Need a Footprint for Your Tent? — CleverHiker

Let’s face it: tents are a costly investment. You want your tent to survive as long as possible, but spending an additional $40 or more on something that you just spent hundreds of dollars on is not the best option. When considering whether or not to purchase (or construct) a footprint, it’s necessary to consider factors such as the fabric of your tent, where you spend the most of your camping time, and how important it is to you to save a few ounces of weight.

What Does A Footprint Do?

However, in contrast to common perception, footprints do not provide any additional waterproofing for the bottom of your tent; the flooring of practically all modern tents are already composed of waterproof fabrics such as silnylon or dyneema. Among the most important functions of a footprint are to protect the ground beneath your tent from abrasive things (such as twigs, roots, and pebbles), to keep your tent free of mud and tree sap, and to assist you in determining the best location to pitch your tent.

A footprint provides an additional layer of protection from abrasive items, which can help to extend the life of your tent’s floor.

Messy Stuff – When we go camping, we anticipate our gear to get a bit dirty, but having sticky tree sap all over the bottom of your tent can be a real pain.

Many of us have been in this situation: you locate the perfect site to pitch your tent, as if it were virtually made specifically for your tent.

This is frustrating. Setting a footprint initially (particularly if you need to accommodate numerous tents in a single location) eliminates the majority of the guesswork involved in spatial design.

Things To Consider Before You Buy

A fabric’s denier specifies the weight of the thread used to weave the cloth; the greater the denier, the thicker and more durable the fabric. Fabric Denier – Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL 2 has an 18-denier nylon floor, however the MSR Hubba Hubba NX 2 has a 30-denier nylon floor, indicating that the Hubba Hubba will have a thicker (and hence more durable) floor than the Copper Spur HV UL 2. The use of a footprint, especially if your tent is constructed of a low-denier fabric, is something you should definitely consider acquiring or manufacturing in order to increase the longevity of your tent floor.

Terrain – If you spend the most of your camping and hiking time on soft sand or in lush grassy regions, you probably won’t need to leave a footprint.

One carefully placed stone or twig might be all that is needed to create a hole in your floor’s surface.

T-tape is extremely durable, and it has been used to repair some of our damaged equipment for many years.

Consider the following example: theNEMO Hornet 2Phas a packed weight of 2 lbs 6 oz., and thefootprint adds an extra 6.9 oz.

In this particular instance, adopting the manufacturer’s footprint results in an increase in weight of around 18 percent for your tent.

You may create your own lightweight groundsheet out of TyvekorPolycryo rather easily; further information on how to do so is provided below.

Footprints often cost between $40 to $80, and they might be difficult to justify on top of the tent’s purchase price.

DIY project made possible by the use of low-cost Tyvek material.

DIY Footprints

So, you’d really like to utilize a footprint, but the cost and/or weight are too expensive and/or heavy. Make one of your own! Making your own footprint is substantially less expensive and nearly always results in a lighter footprint. For groundsheets, many campers choose to use Tyvek (yep, the house wrap) cut to size and shaped to fit their needs. It is waterproof, inexpensive, and nearly unbreakable.

Polycryo (also known as poly/polycro) is another popular alternative for DIY groundsheets on a tighter budget. Polycryo is far lighter in weight than Tyvek, although it is not nearly as durable. The following is a comparison of the approximate weights of the fabrics:

  • Manufacturer footprints are commonly made of PU coated nylon (1.9 oz./ sq. yd.)
  • Tyvek is 1.85 oz./ sq. yd
  • Polycryo is.55 ounces/ square yard
  • And other materials.

The footprint should be approximately one inch shorter than the tent floor on all four sides if you are planning to cut your own footprint to size yourself. In the event that you have fabric sticking out from under your tent or too close to the edge of your tent floor, it might collect water and cause it to pool beneath your tent.

Final Thoughts

Tent footprints are obviously not required, but they can assist to extend the life of your tent if you use them properly. If you have an ultralight tent with a low denier floor, it can be worth it to spend a few more dollars on a footprint or to create your own from scratch to protect your investment. Irrespective of whether we have left a footprint, we always make a point of thoroughly cleaning our campsites before pitching a tent in order to avoid any disasters.

More Information

Maintaining the condition of your equipment is critical, and we hope that this advice has assisted you in determining whether or not you require a tent footprint. If you know of a wonderful footprint substitution or application that we overlooked, please share it with us in the comments section below! You may find more CleverHiker backpacking advice by visiting the following websites:

  • Trail Skills, Lightweight Foundations, and Top Gear Picks are all covered in detail in the CleverHiker Gear Guide.

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